“My body is a cage”: A qualitative investigation into the self-discrepancy experiences of young women with metastatic cancer

Kahraman-Erkus O., Ar-Karci Y., GENÇÖZ T.

Chronic Illness, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/17423953231168014
  • Journal Name: Chronic Illness
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, ASSIA, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PAIS International, Psycinfo
  • Keywords: chronic disease, metastatic cancer, self-concept, Self-discrepancy, young adulthood
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Objectives: The current study investigated self-discrepancy experiences of young women with metastatic cancer. Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted. Data were analyzed through interpretative phenomenological analysis. Findings: Eight female patients with metastatic cancer aged between 27 and 38 years formed the sample. Three superordinate themes emerged: (1) compulsory changes in self-concept with ambivalent evaluations; (2) new ideals not on the agenda of a healthy young woman; and (3) so-called ‘minimalist’ expectations from others. Discussion: Findings indicated that diagnosis and treatment of metastatic cancer impose unique developmental challenges for young adult women. Advanced cancer disrupted the tasks and responsibilities of young adulthood, resulting in frustration, grief, isolation, and overcompensation. These findings suggest that a developmental perspective is crucial when working with self-discrepancy experiences of young women with metastatic cancer.